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Unusual cold slaps Interior with temperatures around -20

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Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013 12:00 am

FAIRBANKS — Raise your hand if you walked out the door Thursday morning and realized you should have plugged in the car.

You’re not alone.

Interior Alaska residents woke up to unseasonably cold temperatures Thursday. The official low at the Fairbanks International Airport was 21 degrees below zero, but residents around the area were reporting thermometer readings even colder.

The last time temperatures dipped this low on April 11 was back in 1992, according to the National Weather Service. The latest April date in which temperatures of minus 20 have been recorded is April 22, a low reached in 1924.

Record lows were set at Eielson Air Force Base, which dropped to minus 23, and at College Observatory, with minus 15.

Other low temperatures around Interior Alaska include 30 below at the Denali Park visitors center, 26 below at Smith Lake on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus and 22 below in Tanana.

Chances are, we won’t see temperatures dropping that far again this month, according to Julie Malingowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks, although below-normal temperatures are still expected for the next few days.

“The temperatures are going to gradually warm, but we will remain below normal through next week,” Malingowski said. A very cold air mass that has been parked over Interior Alaska is moderating, which should mean a return to near-normal temperatures next week.

A few flurries may fall tonight or Sunday, but no substantial snowfalls are in the picture, she said.

The normal high for April 11 is 42 and the normal low is 17 above zero. Friday’s forecast calls for highs in the mid-20s, with lows 3 to 10 below zero.

The extended cold season is a concern, because a rapid warmup could cause problems if the rivers break up suddenly, Malingowski said.

“The good thing is we are going to see temperatures moderating,” she said. “What we want to see is a gradual warmup.”

Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.

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